Traders jack up veggie prices under pretext of TiharPrices expected to stabilise as seasonal vegetables arrive in larger volumes
Traders have hiked prices of vegetables by up to 107 percent within a week citing increased demand during the Tihar festival.
Consumers, who have been overcharged for vegetables since the country announced a lockdown to contain Covid-19 in March, are also bearing the brunt of below-par production of vegetables in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Demand for vegetables such as cauliflower picks up during Tihar due to which prices go up,” said Binaya Shrestha, deputy director at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board. “Traders cash in on the opportunity to hike prices similar to the way they do with other essential food items that are in high demand.”
Wholesale prices of tomato (small and tunnel), cauliflower (local), eggplant (long), bottle gourd, pointed gourd, smooth gourd, okra and green leafy vegetables have soared by up to 107 percent within a week. According to the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, cauliflower, which was being sold at Rs70 per kg, now costs Rs145.
Shrestha said that vegetable production has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed to control its spread. “Kalimati vegetable market was receiving around 800 tonnes of vegetables everyday this time last year. But these days we are receiving only 500 tonnes,” he said.
With the end of the festival season, traders expect prices to gradually stabilise with the arrival of seasonal vegetables in the market. Resham Tamang, administrator at Balkhu Agriculture Vegetable Market, said he expects prices to decline within a few days as seasonal vegetables such as mustard and spinach leaves have started arriving in the market.
The price of okra has reached Rs95 per kg from Rs65 last week. Similarly, the prices of green leafy vegetables have crossed Rs100 per kg. That of broadleaf mustard has jumped from Rs18 per kg to Rs48. Similarly, spinach leaves now cost Rs140 per kg compared to Rs87 last week.
The wholesale price of pointed gourd (local) has been hiked to Rs115 per kg from Rs65 last week. Potatoes (red) are priced at Rs73 per kg while Indian potatoes (red) and potatoes (white) are being sold at Rs65 and Rs63 per kg respectively.
Meanwhile, the price of Indian onions has slightly declined due to competition from Chinese imports. Indian onions, which have had limited presence in the Nepali market after the southern neighbour banned its exports, now cost Rs108 per kg compared to Rs120 last week. The price of Chinese onions has also fallen from Rs103 per kg to Rs63.
According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, the country imported vegetables worth Rs2.87 billion in the first two months of the current fiscal year, an increment by 6.2 percent compared to the last fiscal year when veggies worth Rs2.71 billion were imported.